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  • Profile

    Associate Professor

    Department of Anthropology

    University of Amsterdam


    - PI, ERC funded project:: The Social Life of State Deportation Regimes

    - Co-Director, Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (visit: http://imes.uva.nl/)

    - Program Director, Moving Matters: People, Goods, Power and Ideas (visit: http://aissr.uva.nl)

    Recent Publications:

    Kalir, B. and Wissink, L., 2015. The deportation continuum: convergences between state agents and NGO workers in the Dutch deportation field. Citizenship Studies 20(1): 34-49

    DOI: 10.1080/13621025.2015.1107025


    The Jewish State of Anxiety: Between Moral Obligation and Fearism in the Treatment of African Asylum Seekers in Israel (Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies)



    Transnational Flows and Permissive Polities Ethnographies of Human Mobilities in Asia

    Transnational Flows and Permissive Polities examines how legality and other sources of authority intersect in the regulation of human mobility. The book focuses on the ethnographic exploration of the experiences and views of mobile subjects in the vast and rapidly changing continent of Asia.

    The contributors analyze tensions between the letter of the law and social legitimation, territorial boundaries and commodity flows, state practices and migrant subjectivities, and labour brokerage and national and international organizations. This volume offers key insights for students of globalization and transnationality and policy relevance for development practitioners, governments, and NGOs.       



    "By foregrounding the negotiations that lie at the intersection of competing political and social authorities, this volume radically transforms conventional meanings of sovereignty. By separating legality from order, rules from rule, legitimacy from power, and, illegality from crime, we encounter gendered and national state effects that take shape in startling and counter-intuitive ways. The complex relation of human movement to subjectivity becomes the common axis for fine-grained empirical essays that range across Asia, from the Persian Gulf to India, from Israel to China." - Itty Abraham, National University of Singapore

    "Transnational Flows and Permissive Polities is a must-read volume exploring the subtle connections among human mobility, uneven state regulations, and complex transnational practices that enrich and challenge relationships and identities in ways rarely imagined." - David Kyle , Executive Director of the Gifford Center for Population Studies, UC Davis

    AMAZON University of Chicago Press

    Kalir, Barak. 2010. Latino migrants in the Jewish state: Undocumented lives in Israel .          
    Minneapolis: Indiana University Press.

    Order it at Amazon.com:
    • Review of the book in Choice Reviews

    Kalir, Barak.   Latino migrants in the Jewish state: undocumented lives in Israel .   Indiana , 2010.  282p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780253355072 , $65.00; ISBN 9780253222213 pbk, $24.95. Reviewed in 2011may CHOICE.

    A unique study of undocumented immigrants from Latin America living in Israel, this study brings a wealth of previously unknown data about the tribulations of a population viewed as problematic in much of the Western world. The special circumstances of the Israeli situation notwithstanding, the issues raised here are similar to ones challenging large parts of the world. After the first intifada in the late 1980s, Israel allowed for labor migration from other countries to perform economic roles considered undesirable by Israelis and previously filled by Arabs from the territories, who were now viewed as security risks. The Latinos in question were not legal labor migrants, but came on tourist visas, having learned about employment opportunities in Israel. Many brought over family and produced offspring locally, who were then privileged in status, in contrast with their parents. Anthropologist Kalir (Univ. of Amsterdam, Netherlands) explores the history, social conditions, and strategies employed in avoiding deportation and the successful acculturation of the children and broad acceptance by Israeli citizens. In the end, many were deported, but those who remained have created a fledgling community, contributing to the diversity of the nation. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. --  L. D. Loeb, University of Utah


    Selected Publications:

    • Kalir, Barak. 2012. Moving Subjects, Stagnant Paradigms: Can the "mobilities paradigm" transcend methodological nationalism? Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 39 (2): 1-17.
    • Kalir, Barak and Pál Nyíri. 2010. Between Old Hierarchy and New Orthodoxy. EspacesTemps.net, 12.07.
    • Kalir, Barak.2009. "Finding Jesusin the Holy LandandTaking Him Back Home to China", Sociology of Religion 70, 2: 130-156.
    • Kalir, Barak. 2009. "The Conversion of Chinese Migrant Workers to Evangelical Christianity in theJewish State", ASSR Working Paper Series 03/09 .
    • Kalir, Barak. 2007. "Innovatieve benadering van smokkel", AGORA - Tijdschrift voor Sociaal-ruimtelijke vraagstukken , 23 (3): 41-44.
    • Kalir, Barak. 2006. " The Field of Work and the Work of the Field: Conceptualising an Anthropological Research Engagement", Social Anthropology 14 (2): 235-246.
    • Kalir, Barak. 2005. "The Development of a Migratory Disposition: Explaining a New Emigration", International Migration 43(4): 167-196.

    Book Reviews

    • Identities in an Era of Globalization and Multiculturalism: Latin America in the Jewish World , Liwerant, Judith Bokser, Eliezer Ben-Rafael, Yossi Gorny, Raanan Rein, (eds.) . Comparative Sociology , 9: 548-559.
    • The Jewish Diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean ; Fragments of Memory, Ruggiero, K.(ed.). Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 85: 152-154.
  • The Social Life of State Deportation Regimes
    visit our facebook project community




    Overall aim:


    The aim of this project is to study and compare the actual implementation process of deportation regimes – which comprise deportation policies, procedures and campaigns – in four different states: Israel, Greece, Spain and Ecuador. The project will generate fine-grained ethnographies of the everyday implementation of deportation regimes by studying two pivotal groups that shape and influence deportation practices on the ground: on the one hand, street-level agents and civil servants (police agents, personnel in detention centres, officials in asylum division, etc.), who are assigned the task of locating, detaining and deporting irregular migrants; on the other hand, civil-society actors (local and international NGOs, grassroots movements, religious organisations, etc.), who assume the role of representing the cause of irregular migrants, protecting their rights, assisting them and preventing their deportation.


    The project contributes a crucial perspective – so far underexplored – on irregular migration: the interface of street-level state agents and civil-society actors in shaping practices of deportation. Existing studies look either at the “top level” of the state (policies, laws, procedures, etc.), or at the “underground level” of its “victims” (irregular migrants’ survival strategies, trafficking networks, etc.). This project is innovative in privileging the “meso level” of the deportation regime. Moreover, it goes beyond the dichotomist view of state and non-state actors as occupying opposing ideological stands regarding the implementation of deportation regimes. Instead, this project champions an understanding of this regime as being carried out by a continuum of actions and organisations on both sides. We pay close attention to conflicts as well as complementary practices and converging views, in exploring the dynamics of both “implementation deficits” and “implementation surpluses”.


    This is the first anthropological study to compare the implementation process of deportation regimes on a global scale. It is uniquely positioned to examine global trends in convergence/divergence and test the assumption of a “deportation turn” among 21st-century states in response to irregular migration. The project will make an original contribution to the anthropology of the state, by bringing to light the agency of those who exercise discretion in interpreting laws and policies at the “implementation interface”; and it will demonstrate that the territorial sovereignty of states is constantly renegotiated here.


    Key Objectives: To study and compare the actual implementation process of deportation regimes in four different states: Israel, Greece, Spain and Ecuador. This project focuses on the “meso level”; providing a closely researched assessment of the practices, motivations and networks of street-level state agents and civil-society actors. It examines the social dynamics that lead to “implementation deficits/surpluses”, and it seeks to provide new insights into the marked discrepancies between formal deportation policies and practices of deportation. This is an exercise in the comparative anthropology of deportation regimes; making an original contribution to the anthropology of the state, by bringing to light the agency of those who exercise discretion in interpreting laws and policies at the “implementation interface”; and it will demonstrate that the territorial sovereignty of states is constantly renegotiated here. The project will also interrogate a core assumption in much of the scholarly literature on the “deportation turn”: that there is a global convergence of state deportation regimes.


    Research questions and hypotheses:

    1.      Why does the implementation of deportation regimes show large deviations from formal policies?

    2.      How do everyday interactions at the interface between state and civil society shape the real outcomes of deportation policies?

    3.      Why do implementation deficits/surpluses differ markedly between states?

    4.      How can we explain convergence and divergence between deportation regimes?




    When engaging in multi-sited comparative research, as this project does, it is important to maintain methodological consistency across all case studies. The research design focuses on qualitative methods to generate fine-grained ethnographic accounts of the views and practices of those implementing deportation regimes. In each country we will conduct research at four important sites:

    1.      State institution (examples: detention/reception centre, police station, court, asylum division, social work bureau).

    2.      Civil-society organisation (examples: NGO office, religious/community-based shelter, clinic for irregular migrants, voluntary legal assistance bureau).

    3.      Interface setting (examples: NGO training of police officers, informal collaboration between state agents and activists in solving specific unresolved cases of “deportable aliens”, reception centre).

    4.      Crucial events (examples: pro-/anti-migration public demonstration, important court ruling, launching of a new deportation campaign,  publication of a major report by an international supra-state organisations (UNHCR, IOM, Amnesty International).

    The primary method will be direct- and participant-observation based on immersion in the designated research sites. In each site, researchers will observe the practices of key actors, follow discussions about planned actions, and map interactions with other organisations and actors. In some state institutions (e.g. police stations, detention centres) we expect that researchers will not be able to participate actively, but will use direct-observation to elicit the dominant views, routines and practices. In addition, at least fifteen semi-structured interviews will be conducted with the staff in each setting. At times, and as will become necessary, semi-structured interviews will be held more than once with the same informant over a period of time, to detect changes in views.

    Focus group interviews will be conducted in each organisation/institution to access the ways in which (possibly unspoken) collective ideas about “best practices” and “strategic actions” are formed. Each focus group will attend three major aspects:

    1.      Rationalisation for their actions and legitimisation of their practices;

    2.      Constructed image of irregular migrants;

    3.      Ideas about public opinion regarding their work and the work of other groups involved in the implementation interface.

    Special attention will be paid to street-level agents’ and civil-society actors’ attempts to mobilise public opinion for their cause. We will study the ways in which both groups use the media and maintain contacts with certain journalists and media outlets. We will explore the ideas of those who are behind the designing of public campaigns for and contra the cause of irregular migrants, closely examining the ways in which a particular image of the ‘irregular migrant’ is being constructed by both groups. Especially in the case of civil-society actors we will also focus on the increasing use of social media in coordinating actions, organising public events and spreading independent news items via the internet and smartphones.



  • Links on Deportation
  • Publicaties





    • Kalir, B. (2017). Between ‘voluntary’ return programs and soft deportation: Sending vulnerable migrants in Spain back ‘home’. In Z. Vathi, & R. King (Eds.), Return Migration and Psychosocial Wellbeing: Discourses, Policy-Making and Outcomes for Migrants and Their Families (pp. 56-71). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315619613-4 [details]
    • Kalir, B. (2017). State desertion and 'out-of-procedure' asylum seekers in the Netherlands. Focaal, 77, 63-75. https://doi.org/10.3167/fcl.2017.770106 [details]
    • Kalir, B. (2017). The Jewish State of Anxiety: Between Moral Obligation and Fearism in the Treatment of African Asylum Seekers in Israel. In H. Drotbohm, & I. Hasselberg (Eds.), Deportation, Anxiety, Justice : New ethnographic perspectives (pp. 30-48). (Research in Ethnic and Migration Studies). Routledge. [details]




    • Kalir, B. (2014). Moving Subjects, Stagnant Paradigms: Can the ‘Mobilities Paradigm’ Transcend Methodological Nationalism? In N. B. Salazar, & N. Glick Schiller (Eds.), Regimes of Mobility: Imaginaries and Relationalities of Power (pp. 129-146). Routledge. [details]
    • Paulle, B., & Kalir, B. (2014). The integration matrix reloaded: from ethnic fixations to established versus outsiders dynamics in the Netherlands. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 40(9), 1354-1374. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2013.847783 [details]



    • Kalir, B. (2012). Illegality rules: Chinese migrant workers caught up in the illegal but licit operations of labour migration regimes. In B. Kalir, & M. Sur (Eds.), Transnational flows and permissive polities: ethnographies of human mobilities in Asia (pp. 27-54). (IIAS publications series; No. 7). Amsterdam University Press. [details]
    • Kalir, B., Sur, M., & van Schendel, W. (2012). Introduction: mobile practices and regimes of permissiveness. In B. Kalir, & M. Sur (Eds.), Transnational flows and permissive polities: ethnographies of human mobilities in Asia (pp. 11-25). (IIAS publications series; No. 7). Amsterdam University Press. [details]


    • Kalir, B. (2011). Uncovering the legal cachet of labor migration to Israel. In D. Kyle, & R. Koslowski (Eds.), Global human smuggling: comparative perspectives. - 2nd ed. (pp. 273-304). Johns Hopkins University Press. [details]



    • Kalir, B. (2009). Finding Jesus in the Holy Land and taking Him back home to China: Chinese contemporary migrant workers in Israel converting to evangelical Christianity. Sociology of Religion, 70(2), 130-156. https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srp027 [details]


    • Kalir, B., Lemberg-Pedersen, M., Oomkens, A., Geschke, M., González Beilfuss, M., Vallbé Fernández, J. J., Halpern, O. J., & Barkema, W. (2021). EU exit regimes in practice: case studies from the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Denmark: ADMIGOV Deliverable 2.2. Universiteit van Amsterdam/Hogeschool van Amsterdam.







    • Kalir, B., & Sur, M. (2012). Transnational flows and permissive polities: ethnographies of human mobilities in Asia. (IIAS publications series; No. 7). Amsterdam University Press. [details]





    • Kalir, B. (2010). [Review of: J.B. Liwerant, B.R. Eliezer (2008) Identities in an era of globalization and multiculturalism: Latin America in the Jewish world]. Comparative Sociology, 9, 554-556. https://doi.org/10.1163/156913310X502879 [details]


    • Kalir, B. (2008). [Review of: K. Ruggiero (2005) The Jewish diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean: fragments of memory]. Revista Europea de Estudios Latinoamericanos y del Caribe, 85, 152-154. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25676344 [details]


    • Kalir, B. (2017). The State of Fear: reflections on ethnographically studying deportation practices in Spain. Paper presented at Migration, Diversity and the City - 14th IMISCOE Annual Conference, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
    • Kalir, B. (2017). “I do my work but I don’t agree with the law”: police agents managing deportation in Madrid, Spain. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of American Anthropological Association (AAA), Washington DC, United States.
    • Vallbé, J-J., González-Beilfuß, M., & Kalir, B. (2017). Across the Sloping Meadow Floor: An Empirical Analysis of Detention of Deportable Non-Citizens. Paper presented at Law at the Crossroads, Toronto, Canada. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2994123 [details]


    • Kalir, B. (2015). The agentive capacity of deportation officers: grounding im/mobilities in the imaginary state (of mind). Paper presented at Grounding Immobilities: Embodiment, ephemera, ecologies, Lisbon, Portugal.


    • Kalir, B. (2013). Protecting the Nation from Liars: The Quest for Truth among Agents in the Dutch Agency for Repatriation and Departure Service. Paper presented at Ethnographies of border controls, Stockholm, Sweden.
    • Kalir, B. (2013). The credibility game: selecting “authentic” claimers of rights in the Dutch field of irregular migrants. Paper presented at 10th IMISCOE Annual Conference, Malmo, .


    • Kalir, B. (2013). ERC starting grant.


    • Sezneva, O., Vermeulen, F. F. & Kalir, B. (2011). Co-organizer. Race and Whiteness in Comparative Perspective conference, IMES.
    • Kalir, B. (2008). Co-organizer, Conference Illegal but licit. Trivandrum, India, 24-26 January.


    • Kalir, B. (member of editorial board) (2020-2024). Migration Politics (Journal).
    • Kalir, B. (member of editorial board) (2017-2019). Public Anthropologist (Journal).


    • Kalir, B. (invited speaker) (7-5-2015). From deportation regimes to a deportation continuum, IMMRC 2015 Lecture Series Regimes of Mobility, Repertoires of Diversity, Leuven.


    • Kalir, B. (participant) (2011). Organising an international conference/workshop on "Studying Spaces of Non-Existence", Jakarta (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).


    • Masardi, R. D. (2021). Independent refugee youth in waiting: Social navigations while in transit in Indonesia. [details]
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
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